The Tigers went into the Capital One Bowl a heavy favorite to defeat Wisconsin, but lost the game 24-10 to an inspired group of Badgers who sent retiring coach Barry Alvarez out with a victory.
“Everybody is anxious to get to Dallas and get ready to play,” says Cox, who wrapped up the on-campus portion of bowl practice on Thursday.
“We were embarrassed last year,” the junior quarterback says. “It was tough. We were reminded of it all year leading up to this season. I think everybody is going to be really focused on what we need to do and I think we will go out there and play a lot better than we did last year.”
Auburn will bring a 10-2 record into its Cotton Bowl matchup vs. 9-4 Nebraska, the runnerup to Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma.
Cox has been studying the Cornhuskers’ defense. “Just watching film they are real basic,” he says. “They don’t bring a lot of pressure with twists and things like that. They are kind of like Georgia and Coach Borges (offensive coordinator Al Borges) compared them to Georgia. They are big, physical guys. They are a little different than a typical SEC defense, but they are good.”
Auburn’s quarterback notes that he believes his team’s offense has a chance to play better than it did down the stretch run of the regular season because more players are closer to full speed, including the quarterback himself who was battling ankle and knee problems. However, Cox notes he is very close to 100 percent and points out that tailback Kenny Irons looks better than he has since opening night and adds that it is a big plus to have wide receiver Courtney Taylor back in the lineup.
The QB notes that the time off for the Tigers after their regular season finale victory at Alabama has helped guys like center Joe Cope. “Joe has been fighting (injuries) all year,” Cox says. “He is one of the guys who has been hurt and it is good for him to have a few weeks off.”
Brandon Cox (12) and junior noseguard Josh Thompson watch their senior teammates at the end of their final on-campus practice of the season.
The Tigers practiced seven times before breaking for the Christmas holiday and Cox says that time was productive. “You can definitely tell at practice the speed is a little better and up tempo,” he says. “The guys are excited about playing.”
Cox contends that health has been an issue for the 2006 team. “I think for us to win 10 games is pretty remarkable with all of the injuries--especially with all of the injuries we had...to beat Florida, to beat LSU, two teams that are in the top four. We didn’t play our best games against the two teams we lost to. We could have easily lost four games with all of the injuries we had.”
The quarterback notes that he won’t be satisfied to end his junior campaign with 10 wins. “To send them (the seniors) out with 11 wins would just be huge.”
Cox and the Tigers are due to report to Dallas on the day after Christmas and will resume bowl practices there the following day at SMU.
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